Subjective summery and semi-objective referral on Critical Endeavour, ImPulsTanz Festival 2008


Dóra Juhász – Budapest, Hungary

(delegated by Workshop Foundation, Hungary)


I have got amazing mottos for a text like this, that I collected during the three weeks of Critical Endeavour in Vienna. My favorites are: „Who protects the critics?” and „The critic can be the best and the beast…” and of course the most horroristic and text-theoretical one in the same time: „The text is a monster!

For a regular reader these sentences must seem to be a bit exaggerated, but I guess for the eleven of us taking part in this projects, these words are talking about something else: the possibility of facing problems in our profession, the doubts and power of judging, the playful freedom and the serious responsibility of watching performances and creating texts about dance.

To tell the truth: the three weeks of the educational and workshop programme for emerging dance and performance journalists, Critical Endeavour meant a lot for me and not only in numerical data. Though these numbers are very impressive: eleven young critics, twenty-two days, six mentors, three public talks, almost thirty performances (some of them twice), twelve young choreographers, some hundreds of characters in Der Standard (since then 2 articles, and 2 other texts before publishing in the Hungarian press), countless coffees and conversations about art, theatre, dance, criticism and – without any pathetic overtone, but – life…

It was really great to work together with Franz Anton Cramer, Gia Kourlas, Tiago Bartolomeu Costa and the others… Some things worked perfectly, some thing could be even better.

-       I definitely agreed with not organizing a writing seminar, but a workshop with real questions, theoretical aspects of criticism and very actual problems. The „know-how” of creating a text is very important, but on international level I prefer discussing theoretical, ethical questions to talking about the usage of verbs and grammatical elements. Of course it is important to write as well. I think it was a really good combination: writing texts, but from a special point of view, with the aim of illustrating a theoretical problem or question (texts, verbal-textual forms as the imprints of an extreme position for example).

-       The jury situation in connection with the Ö1 Prix Jardin d’Europe also worked very well – as the illustration of the power of criticism, responsibility or the possibilities of “being protective” with a genre, an artist, an art form, a nation, a tendency. However, all these questions quite complicated. On the other hand it is good to see clearly that that being involved in a jury means that the jury members do not have the possibility to get really close to the nominated artists and pieces, while – for example - following the rehearsals could have been quite useful and instructive in connection with the critical process…

-       It was really efficient and inspiring to work together with different critics and experts during the three weeks (it was great to meet different points of view and ways of thinking) though restarting the work again and again with the new participants meant restarting the conversation again and again. Sometimes we discussed the main questions again (for the second or the third time), we went back to the beginning of the whole story (Who is a critic? Why do we write? Etc.)  – which had good and bad effects as well.

-       By the end of the 3 weeks we had a very useful list of books, articles and essays to read. The list itself is extremely important. Perhaps next time it would be good to collect the most important books in several copies so as the seminar participants could buy it for themselves (or collect the addresses of English art bookshops in the certain city for the same reason). 

-       It would be also important to be informed after the workshop about the events and news in connection with the prize (press reverberate, opinions, suggestions), so as to get some kind of feedback, and so as to have the chance to follow the work of the awarded artists. 

The Critical Endeavour was a really important experience for me in my critical carrier, I hope I am going to work together with all the people I met during these weeks some time in the future, and I am extremely happy that I had the chance to take part in this great project.

Last but least I have to admit something: I don’t want to have a gentle pet of words, instead of the monster called text! I think now I have the knowledge (or more precisely: I know more in connection with) how not to tame the text, but control it well! I guess it is the most important thing for an „emerging” (whatever it means) young critic, the „work in progress” beast, who would like to be the best…

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